Often times when you visit famous ruins, there are no buildings left and you cannot tell what was once there. The Korokan-Fukuoka Castle Ruins area, which is now a park in Chuo-ku, is a rare combination of ruins from ancient times and the Edo Period, both of which are nationally-designated historical sites. Unfortunately, almost no buildings remain, so you cannot tell what the sites used to look like from their current state.
This is why Fukuoka City developed a virtual walking tour of the area. Walking around the ruins with a tablet computer in hand, you can view virtual reconstructions of what the area used to look like. Holding the tablet and turning 360° provides you with full panoramic views of the old scenery. You can also enjoy vistas of the old town from the keep of Fukuoka Castle. To sign up for a virtual tour, stop by the Fukuoka Castle Ruins Visitor Center (Cost: ¥500/person).
Korokans were built in the Heian Era for diplomacy and trade. There were three of these facilities in Japan, but the one in Fukuoka is the only one that has been found. Excavation continues at the site, and several new discoveries have been made in recent years. The Korokan ruins are an important site in Japan, but given its sheer age, there is almost nothing left to show what the site looked like or how big it was.
Fukuoka Castle was built by the founding father of Fukuoka, Kanbei Kuroda, and his son Nagamasa, but it was also called Maizuru Castle because of its resemblance to a crane flying elegantly through the air. Even today, some of the castle’s gates, towers and grand stone walls remain, but most of the buildings have been lost. If we can reclaim the past elegance of the castle, even if only on a computer screen, maybe people will grow more attached to this important symbol of Fukuoka.
Originally published by Fukuoka Now (September 2013).